What should a sensible economy look like?

In such a system, it seems to me, people would produce as much of their own goods and food as reasonably possible, exchanging their labor for money to buy the other things they need. They would buy only what they need to live a simple, comfortable, happy life, neither denying themselves the things necessary to make life pleasant, nor hoarding or spending frivolously. They would buy from their neighbors wherever possible, in order to both assure the quality of the goods and to support their community. Any surplus (whether of money or goods) would be set aside, saved for a rainy day or for those things that a single year’s surplus won’t buy. When a neighbor was in need, they would lend a hand, comfortable in the knowledge that if they themselves should ever need help their neighbors would cheerfully provide it. Among the virtuous at least, none would be poor or extravagantly wealthy.

Well that may seem like a sensible way to live, but in the world we inhabit it’s crazy talk. If people started behaving that way the entire house of cards that is our economic system would collapse.

What we call the “economy” is a perversion of the word itself, a mockery of it. The system doesn’t depend upon thrift, frugality, prudence or a careful management of limited resources. Rather it is predicated upon the fantasy that resources and wealth are unlimited. Participants in this false economy are “consumers.” As such, they are expected to consume, without regard to need. Quantity trumps quality, of course. In fact, high quality items, tending as they do to durability, are detrimental to the health of this economy. Better are low-quality items that must be replaced frequently. Spending is preferential to savings, and debt is best of all. There is never enough and no such thing as too much. The system depends upon an unending supply of consumers, whose desires are never satisfied. In such a system, widespread contentment would be an economic disaster of the highest magnitude.

But what happens once the basic needs of the citizens have been met and they can’t be induced to buy more than they need? What happens when the beast is hungry and the “consumers” won’t feed it?

In much of the world today consumer demand is decreasing. People are choosing saving over spending–both the aging population entering retirement and, refreshingly, the so-called millennial generation. But of course this is not acceptable to the wizards in control of the world’s central economies and they’re rather desperately trying to figure out how to keep the consumers consuming.

What’s happening now in Japan may portend the future for the rest of the developed world. As Japanese consumer spending slowed down, their Central Bank began implementing measures designed to discourage savings, incent spending and create price inflation. Having lowered interest rates all the way to zero without achieving their mission, in January Japan adopted negative interest rates. Now, instead of earning interest on money deposited into banks, savers are effectively paying for the privilege. But unfortunately for the Japanese economic gurus the move hasn’t created inflation. It has, however, boosted consumer spending on one item–home safes.

Maybe the Lords of Finance will find a way to force people into the cycle of spending and debt upon which our false economy depends. Or maybe the day is approaching when true economy will replace that thing we now call the Economy.

19 comments on “Economy

  1. Bill. I could not agree more. There is no word in the English language sufficient to describe how much I agree! ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Well economy in words can be a good thing too. 🙂
      I’m glad you appreciated the post Diana. I never know if anyone is going to read the stuff that comes out of my keyboard when I climb up onto my soapbox.


  2. avwalters says:

    Waiting for that day….


  3. Chipmunk says:

    This is why the powers that be are pushing for a cashless economy. Much easier to control our money electronically.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, we have talked about this many times on your blog. The whole idea of ever increasing sales and profits has a flaw in the logic of it all. It definitely is a beast that will not be satisfied and in time collapse on a global scale. In the beginning barter was the only way to get something you didn’t have. In the end barter will once again be a way of life. I’m not sure that I’ll see the end but at the pace the world is traveling, it may be sooner than we think. One hiccup in the economy could start the house of cards to fall. Most truthful economists say that it’s not a matter of if but when the collapse will happen. Our hope can not be in politicians or government. Our hope is in what Bill teaches about local economic communities. It’s what made out country strong in the beginning and it can do it again.

    Have a great local economic day.


    • Bill says:

      This system has done an amazing job of lifting the world out of abject poverty. With all its flaws, I doubt any other system could have accomplished it. But it is terribly unsuited for a population whose needs are met. Then it has no choice but to resort to planned obsolescence, waste, artificially created discontent and “need,” etc. If you had described the material wealth of today’s average person to someone a generation or two ago they would have considered it the golden age of the future. But studies show we’re more unhappy, discontent, stressed and slaves to debt and jobs we hate than ever.

      I’m convinced that the solution is to reduce our consumption and debt, enjoy what we have and live more sustainably. Localized interdependent economies are a necessary part of that equation I think.

      Thanks as always for reading and for your thoughtful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Susan says:

    Excellent thoughts on this.
    Hubby and I don’t spend on goods because his pension allows only the BILLS to be paid, and whatever is left—we travel with. I’d rather have memories than poorly made consumer goods any day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Good for you all! One of the characteristics of the millennials (as a group) is there preference for spending money to acquire experiences, rather than stuff. It’s heartwarming to see that people like you, Curt and others whose blogs I read have figured that out too!


  6. Farmgirl says:

    Here! Here! My thoughts exactly.


  7. In complete agreement, Bill. Peggy and I are criminals in this system. The only thing we have bought that we are paying off is our home, and even that was a manufactured home, easily affordable. Everything else we pay for outright. And we rarely buy things we don’t need. –Curt


  8. I am not surprised about the spending on home safes.. Who wouldn’t? Seems to me the banks have had their way far too long..
    I long ago stopped spending on ‘Things’ I don’t need.. We can’t take any of them with us when we make that final journey now can we.. Only the memories we make.. 🙂
    Enjoyed reading this one Bill 🙂


    • Bill says:

      When I read about the booming sales of home safes in Japan I admit it brought a smile. If, rather than pay interest on deposits banks are charging the depositors, then a home safe makes perfect sense. I like to see people refusing to go along with the game.

      I’m glad to see our culture losing its addiction to “stuff.” We’re going to break the borrow and spend cycle and when we do we’re going to see humanity flourishing as never before!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes you are right Bill.. We are being programmed very intensely right now, via the advertising world.. And media in general.. They are making so very easy for the young to fall into debt and these new phones have got a lot of them zombied out and focused on trivia games and purchasing on line at the click of a button..

        It is going to take a major shift to alter these habits and I have long thought our economy is going to take a big nose dive which will shock and shake us all to our senses..
        If Japan is feeling the pinch and they are one of the worlds major manufacturers, then its a sure sign we are on the cusp ..

        Banks would at one time be begging us to put our money in them when we got paid in £ and $ in our wage packets.. Now it goes straight into the bank as just a generated figure on a computer being passed back and forth..

        If every one paid off their debts the banks would go bust.. Because they are dishing out loans with nothing to back it up..
        I can see the days when the small co-operatives come back into being set up for the benefit of the community.. Not just in banking but in skills and trade..
        But the old has to get go before change begins within the new… A painful process but one where I see no option in the long run.. Something has to give..

        Loved your thoughts Bill

        Liked by 1 person

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